With Grokster Ltd. said to be in talks with the legal file-sharing startup Mashboxx, is the pressure mounting on Grokster's local comrades-in-arms like Morpheus to go the legit route too?
After all, Grokster and Morpheus, owned by L.A. based StreamCast Networks Inc., lost a Supreme Court decision finding that file-sharing companies could be sued for copyright violation if users illegally downloaded music and movies.
But while Grokster appears close to an agreement to be acquired by Sony Corp.-backed Mashboxx, which is getting ready to launch a paid peer-to-peer file-sharing service, Morpheus is taking its own route.
"We expect to return to the trial court to have a trial on the facts," said Matthew Neco, general counsel for StreamCast. "A reasonable jury will find that we did not actively induce copyright infringement and we will be vindicated."
StreamCast just launched Morpheus 5.0, its newest version of peer-to-peer software. Morpheus also introduced a paid platform for its service called "Peer Response," which will offer "a full slate of legitimate music, game and video downloadable titles to try and buy," according to a company statement.
Sherman Oaks-based Brilliant Digital Entertainment Inc. is also in the file-sharing business. Its Altnet Inc. distribution business, along with Sharman Networks Ltd., operator of the Kazaa service, lost a copyright infringement case brought by Universal Music Australia. Linked to Kazaa, Altnet has an uncertain future.
In a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission, Brilliant Digital said it was not generating sufficient cash flow to meet its September obligations and has been trying to work with debt holders and creditors to achieve extensions, with limited success. If the company is unable to achieve more financing, it "would most likely result in our having to file for bankruptcy protection," the filing said.
Brilliant Digital executives could not be reached.
Skate Punks Unite
What does a former Walt Disney Co. Internet executive do when he wants to get his skate on? He starts his own video channel, streaming two-minute episodes to skate punks through their cell phones. Called "The Street TV," it shows kids skateboarding, BMX-biking and "checking out what's going on."
The streamcast is the work of 39-year-old Etesh Mangray, who left Disney in January. His Mobile Lingo LLC charges $4.99 per month for the service, which launched with Sprint PCS phone service last week. The shows feature bike and skateboard stunts by X Games medal winners, as well as "pop features on what's happening in street art, fashion and body modification," including tattoos and body piercing.
Subscribers have access to three new episodes each day, produced by Patty Segovia, founder of the "All-Girl Skate Jam" skateboarding competition. Mobile Lingo has six employees and is privately funded, mostly by Mangray.
Activision Inc. has signed an A-list of actors to voice the video game version of "True Crime: New York City." Starring Christopher Walken as the FBI field agent, Laurence Fishburne as drug kingpin and Mickey Rourke as a New York police detective, the game also taps into some television cop show favorites: "Law and Order" detective Mariska Hargitay voices a lieutenant and "NYPD Blue" chief Esai Morales stars as the police organized crime unit chief. Former adult film star Traci Lords voices a madam. The game is scheduled to be released this fall for PlayStation 2, Xbox and the Nintendo GameCube.
*Staff reporter Hilary Potkewitz can be reached at (323) 549-5225, ext.226, or by e-mail at email@example.com .
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